This morning we hosted a webinar with the UKAA – Resourcing Trends within BTR and PropTech. Presented by LMRE’s Director; Louisa Dickins. She was joined by fantastic panellists and leaders in their respective industries; Sowgol Zarinchang of Way of Life, Demetrios Barnes of SmartRent and Costas Frangeskou of Goodlord.
Louisa kicked off the discussion noting that none of the panellists came from a traditional property background. The panellists unanimously agreed that when hiring for their respective teams, real estate knowledge is not a necessity, rather it is about the candidates’ ability to connect with people and the passion for the business which cannot be taught. As Costas aptly put it “you can train skills, but you can’t train behaviours”. He said that when hiring, he looks at what his team is missing and then looks for those behaviours in candidates. Both Sowgol and Demetrios discussed how setting realistic expectations for candidates is the key to getting the right person for their respective teams.
The panellists then went on to discuss how the sectors are changing. Sowgol noted that as BTR is so customer service centric, she is now seeing people coming in from more of a hospitality angle where traditionally people have come from property backgrounds. All panellists agreed that customer service is at the heart of these sectors. Sowgol stated “you want to make sure you have a happy customer rather than just ticking the box”. Costas used an example from his time at Rightmove, where part of the interview process was to ask candidates to do a presentation about something they care about. This allowed the hiring managers to see which candidates could be passionate about what they are selling. Demetrios agreed “no amount of schooling can teach you customer service skills and passion”.
Louisa asked the guests what trends they expect to see in their industries post-COVID. Sowgol expects to see an increase in people coming into BTR from outside the property sector, particularly as so many people have been made redundant due to the pandemic. She highlighted those within the hospitality / service sector such as airline staff as a potential transition. Costas further explained that COVID has shown companies that they need to be more flexible and open to tech. To that point there is little doubt that the pandemic has pushed once ‘technology resistant’ businesses into the technological foray far quicker than they might have liked – but without the simple adoption of measures like working from home, they wouldn’t have lasted long. Indeed, there are some opportunities to be had for startups who beforehand might have been met with a closed door, they can now at least begin a conversation about the benefits of adopting their technology. Agreeing with Costas’ point, Demetrios said “the demand for tech was always there but now the decisionmakers are making decisions”.
Louisa concluded that BTR and PropTech are resilient industries and now both have the exciting opportunity to attract new people and technology into their sectors.